City Lit Blog

City Lit welcomes LGA's call for funding boost to support disadvantaged adults

Story added 2nd Mar 2020

The Local Government Association is concerned that reductions in adult education funding have coincided with a drop of 3.8 million adult learners since 2010. This has left just 33 per cent of adults on courses or in training – a record low since figures began in 1996.

Despite needing it the most, adults with the lowest qualifications are the least likely to access adult training.

In order to boost support for disadvantaged adults, the LGA is urging the Government to at least double the Adult Education Budget – some of which funds local authority adult and community education provision – from £1.5 billion to £3 billion.

Councils run successful adult learning centres to support their communities. However faced with unprecedented funding cuts to adult education, many councils face the prospect of reducing provision or winding down their adult learning centres altogether.

The LGA said increasing adult education funding and devolving it to councils and combined authorities would enable them to deliver much-needed skills provision to help adults that need support the most get the skills they need to progress in life, either by acting as stepping stones to further education or employment, or by giving them the skills to lead more independent and healthier lives, in a way that cannot be achieved by our centralised employment and skills system run from Whitehall.

This would improve access for people to a range of entry-level courses through to professional qualifications, provide interview support and confidence-boosting programmes and help more people already in work with courses to re-train, upskill or move up in the workplace.

As our economy is changing, with digitalisation, extended working lives and our exit from the European Union, upskilling our adult workforce must be a top priority for councils to play their part in driving sustainable growth.

The LGA has warned that six million people in England risk being without a job or in work they are over-qualified for by 2030, which could lead to a potential loss of £120 billion in economic output by the end of the decade.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Chairman of the LGA's People and Places Board, said: "Additional funding to local authority adult education providers has the ability to transform people's lives by supporting the most vulnerable, including the long-term unemployed, or those out of work due to redundancy, ill-health or caring responsibilities to get the support they need.

"A lack of support is holding back adults that need help the most – putting the mental health and wellbeing of our communities at risk and increasing their likelihood of isolation and loneliness.

"Councils are committed to supporting the Government to reduce inequality in our regions. With much-needed investment, adult learning can improve health and wellbeing, upskill our workforce, support disadvantaged groups, reduce unemployment and underemployment, promote economic growth, reduce the welfare bill, and decrease social isolation, anxiety and loneliness.

"By increasing adult education funding and handing control over how it's spent locally, councils and combined authorities can help revolutionise adult education support, getting thousands more people the support they need to get on in their careers."

Phil Chamberlain, Executive Director External Engagement at City Lit said: "We welcome the LGA’s call for funding boost to support disadvantaged adults. Here at City Lit, we believe that everyone has a right to learn and improve themselves regardless of their age or stage in life, ability to finance learning themselves or need of specialist support. Increased public funding is therefore vital to this success and for the life-changing opportunities that can be provided to adults across the UK. We work hard to ensure that barriers are reduced wherever possible, and ensure we offer high-quality courses, excellent tutors, with an affordable and flexible approach – with both short and longer-term courses; in mornings, daytime, evenings and weekends. "